The War of the Realms, Jason Aaron’s epic Thor-rooted conflict encompassing every corner of Norse cosmology, has been building for years, and is now mere months away. All the banners atop my comics tell me so.
But in another mythological corner of the Marvel Universe, conflict has already come and gone. The hallowed spires of Olympus lie in ruins and the Greek-inspired gods and demigods who inhabited that otherworldly paradise have been slaughtered. Time to assemble the Avengers B-team!
Towards the end of Marvel’s problematic Legacy initiative, Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub bravely embarked on the highly ambitious Avengers: No Surrender project, a weekly Avengers story that hearkened back to some of the greatest adventures of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. There was cosmic gamesmanship courtesy of the Grandmaster; a journey through the team’s storied past via the introduction of Voyager; and classic character team-ups, combining long-time fan-favorites and new blood alike. It was solicited with minimal fanfare (especially as preparations were in place for the “Fresh Start”), and ended up being a rousing success.
One of the reasons No Surrender seemed to worked so well is because these writers were each able to bring to the party a special affinity for certain B-list heroes. So, as an encore, while Jason Aaron is busy putting together the single most powerful iteration of the Avengers ever conceived (granted, with his own curious collection of fun also-rans — I see you, Agents of Wakanda), Waid, Ewing, and Zub embark on another self-contained epic involving an oddball assemblage of some clearly personal faves. The weekly Avengers: No Road Home premieres this week.
Continue reading Avengers: No Road Home
Stories of extraterrestrial emigration to our beautiful blue planet are nothing new, particularly in recent years when the question of alien identity has become such a hot-button issue. Comics like Port of Earth and Border Town address the varying degrees of xenophobia that continue to simmer forth, putting our preservation and admiration of diversity ever more on the defensive.
The first issue of LaGuardia, by Nnedi Okorafor with art by Tana Ford and James Devlin, immediately sets itself apart from any sci-fi allegories of immigration. In this near-future world, Nigeria was the site of extraterrestrial first contact, and Lagos now operates the most important interstellar airport on the planet. The country, furthermore, has benefited greatly from its early communion with otherworldly species, and advancements in science and technology are ever-present.
But controversy is inescapable, and secessionists recalling the Nigerian Civil War amass, violently opposed to the influx of alien races and influence. Nigerian-American physician Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka arrives in New York City via LaGuardia, now the only interplanetary port in North America, pregnant and intent on smuggling in a mysterious little plant-based alien lifeform who adopts the rather loaded appellation of Letme Live.
Continue reading LaGuardia
Still in shock that I like a Hulk book this much. I wrote a little about this comic when it debuted and how I was impressed by Ewing & Bennett’s initial issue, but now that we’re six months into Marvel’s Fresh Start, I can say that this is by far my favorite thing the company is putting out.
Al Ewing really won me over to his storytelling sensibilities with The Ultimates but for some reason I thought that would be more of a one-time thing. He just seemed more attuned to that cosmic grand scale story. But Ewing proved me wrong with The Immortal Hulk.
This Hulk story reminds me of old EC horror comics. Morality tales of humans and being judged by some sort of supernatural being. They never have happy endings and always leave you with a bit of incoming dread. That’s exactly what Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett accomplish with their first arc in The Immortal Hulk.
Ewing weaves together different morality tales with each issue and somehow moves the ongoing story of the Green Door onward. Is the Hulk an avenging devil? A gamma detective dispensing justice?
I really like Ewing’s strategy of making Banner and Hulk secondary characters in their story. You hear more about them and their impact through other characters. Everyone treats them as larger than life figures so when they make an appearance, they really pop.
Continue reading The Best of Marvel’s Fresh Start #1 – The Immortal Hulk
The Hulk has always been a character that I’ve been iffy on. While I’ve enjoyed the acclaimed runs from Peter David and Greg Pak, they never fully got me onboard with the character. The truly horrifying nature of being turned into a rage-filled monster never hit home with me with in those runs.
Enter Al Ewing. I don’t know why I’ve never seen Hulk tackled from a horror perspective. It seems like the most obvious connection in the world, and that is exactly what Ewing manages to do with his debut issue on The Immortal Hulk. The sense of looming dread that hangs over this book feels more in line with an EC Comic than a traditional Marvel book. The Hulk truly feels like a scary otherworldly force that is here to judge humankind. He’s not just a dumb big brute but rather the best authority on the evils of the everyday person.
Continue reading The Immortal Hulk #1